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Auction of paintings by Lamorna Group artist whose story was told in film

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 17, 2014

By Sarah Pitt

  • Calling them In by Sir Alfred Munnings

  • A scene from the film Summer in February, shot at Lamorna Cove

  • The Fair by Sir Alfred Munnings

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If you love both horses and art, you might want to take a peek at the online catalogue of Bonhams in London, which features three oil paintings by the famous equine artist Sir Alfred Munnings due to go under the hammer next Wednesday.

Munnings has intriguing Westcountry connections, for he lived and painted in the far west of Cornwall in his youth in the years leading up to the First World War.

He was part of the famous Lamorna Group of artists in West Cornwall, and his tragic love affair with artist Florence Carter Wood was told in the 2013 film Summer in February.

Florence met the artist when she moved to Newlyn to study at Stanhope Forbes’s school of painting.

The couple married in 1912, but their marriage proved disastrous, with Florence seeking solace in the company of Gilbert Evans, Lamorna Valley’s land agent.

The film, directed by Christopher Menaul, was based on a novel by Jonathan Smith, and starred Dominic Cooper as Munnings, Emily Browning as his first wife Florence Carter-Wood and Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens as her lover, Gilbert Evans.

It was around the time the film is set that Munnings painted the hustle and bustle of a rural horse fair, selling the oil painting for just £35 in the years before the First World War.

It is now being offered by Bonhams with a guide price of £150,000-£200,000.

Also on sale, at £40,000-£60,000 is Calling Them In, his atmospheric study of a huntsman and horse. A third painting, Grey Mare and Chestnut Foal, is offered for £50,000-£70,000.

The paintings are evocative of the years before the First World War, before the fabric of rural England was torn apart by the conflict in which a million horses perished alongside millions of men.

Munnings, the son of a miller, would have grown up around horses and been familiar with horse fairs from an early age.

He was considered one of England’s finest equestrian and sporting painters, although as the 20th century progressed he was increasingly at odds with the emerging zeitgeist of modernist art. His work features in the auction alongside paintings by other Lamorna Group artists, including Laura Knight, S J Lamorna Birch and Stanhope Forbes.

The Fair, top left, and Calling Them In by Sir Alfred Munnings; and, right and below, scenes from Summer in February

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